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Updated: Monday, July 3, 2006
Portland, Oregon - May 11th
Most of the day was spent parked in a relatively quiet, lower middle-class neighborhood next to a food co-op. "Hmmm.....seems fairly quiet, not many people around." Well, it didn't take long as word spread and people came walking down the street to meet us. Others were driving through, saw the buses and found a parking space to come 'check us out'.
Later, at the end of the day, we were ready to leave and drive north to get a head start on the trip to Port Townsend. Suddenly, we noticed a man in a white tee-shirt and long black beard running back and forth between the idling Merrymaker bus and his car.
"What's going on?" we wondered aloud. The next thing we knew, three men got out of the car, quickly rearranged some things and ran over to get on Peacemaker II. They were going to lead us to their house to camp for the night.....
As the story goes the evening before the Merrymaker bus had been running a couple of errands. They arbitrarily pulled off an exit to try and find someone to ask directions. Pulling into an empty parking lot, a car pulled up behind them and an excited couple jumped out.
"We've been following you... who are you... we saw the camels and Hebrew writing on your bus... are you who we have been looking for?" they exclaimed in a steady stream.
This couple was part of a group of disillusioned Christians looking for deeper roots into the Jewish traditions. After talking with them for a bit, they promised to tell their friends and find us in Portland the next day. These three men were the entourage of the group.
"We got here as soon as we could... we were afraid you had left," the man with the beard said breathlessly with the same enthusiasm as the couple. "Please come to our friend's house, he has 40 acres and there is lots of room for the buses. Our other friends will meet us there!"
What could we do but respond favorably to these passionate seekers and travel in the opposite direction of our trip to receive their hospitality?
When the whole caravan arrived our guests jumped off the bus and disappeared into the house as we slowly moved down their narrow driveway wondering where we would park. Suddenly we heard the sound of shofars! We looked up and on the porch a man and woman were blowing shofars in greeting. The man was blowing two at once!
"Wow, look at that....we've never seen anything like this before!"
We all got off the buses. After greeting and being greeted we wondered what to do next. Spontaneously, people went to get their instruments and we started dancing and singing in their front yard. For the rest of the evening we spoke with these sincere people individually around a huge campfire. They all told stories of their disappointments with Christianity and some, of the awareness of their inability to share a common life due to selfishness and a love of worldly pleasure. Their hope was in their leader's 'revelation' of the Hebrew alphabet and understanding of the Torah. Like so many people we have met they knew they should be living together and sharing their assets and caring for each other.
We were able to share with them about how the simple obedience to our Master's words were the key to living a life of love and selflessness, rather than knowledge and intellectual pursuits alone. Promising to see us again soon, we left thanking them for their wonderful hospitality and kindness to us. There are so many of these fringe groups who are earnestly seeking to know God's will for their lives and learn how they could live together.
Port Townsend, Washington May 12th
Located at the eastern tip of the Olympia Peninsula and Puget Sound, Port Townsend almost has the feel of an alternative New England seaport and fishing village.
We parked on the main street and spent a few hours playing mountain music and talking to people in the 'Boiler Room'; a small coffee shop run on a volunteer basis as a safe haven for the town youth to 'hang out'. Although we didn't have a place to dance, we were busy talking to people on the buses most of the day.
Another reason for coming to Port Townsend was to see the man and his wife who will be rigging our ship in Brunswick, Georgia. After spending some time talking about bus construction, two couples spent the evening with them gaining wisdom from these knowledgeably generous people.
Amazingly enough, the weather continues to be pleasant and sunny.
Seattle May 13th
We had been told there could be up to 10,000 people at the Golden Garden Park (on the Puget Sound) on a sunny, Saturday morning. Well, it was a sunny Saturday... so where was everyone? As the day warmed up, people started coming. The Washington natives knew the brisk morning breeze would die down in the afternoon. The majestic, snow-covered Olympia Mountains stood across from the glistening waters of the sailboat dotted Sound. Soon there were lots of people stopping to talk and watch us dance. One man sitting on the bus said, "It is so relaxing here, I don't want to leave."
The crowds changed towards evening as people came to the park to see the sunset. It was getting time to go as we had a two or three hour drive before stopping for the night. We also needed to get up at 5:30 to be ready for an early morning border crossing. But, we couldn't leave as we sensed there were still people who wanted to talk. We are learning that kindness is not only telling people the truth, but allowing them to talk and tell you everything that is on their hearts and mind. As we allow people the freedom and time to 'get it out', they are able to let their guard down and appreciate the fact that we feel they have worth as human beings....that what they think and feel is important.
Vancouver, B.C. May 14th
What do you do after you've had your coffee and read the newspaper on a beautiful Sunday morning?..... why not take a walk to the Park on Commercial Drive?
It was the general consensus amongst the caravan that the most people we talked to in one day were in Vancouver, B.C. It seemed that our brothers in the Canadian communities picked the perfect spot. This city has a cosmopolitan feel and one of the greatest cross section of walks of life we've seen yet. As the musicians played music and others danced, the people on the buses talked to people all day. Although many people just walked through, many wanted to sit and talk. A lot of the people we were conversing with had already been talking with someone in the park and wanted to know more about our life. The residents of the Commercial Drive neighborhood said they felt like a "community" and one man even said they see this area as the "Haight-Ashbury of the 21 st century."
At one point during the day, a man and some young women were singing (a song about love) to the people in the crowd. A drunken Indian man with no shirt, stumbled towards the girls in a rather lewd way. The girls recoiled backwards a couple of feet in fear. The brother stopped playing the guitar and gently put his hand on the drunken man's shoulder kindly saying, "Just listen to the song." Surprisingly enough the man moved away. When they were done with the song, the Indian got up and said, "Now, it's my turn," and he began singing his tribal song. The man and young women stood and politely listened. When the Indian was finished he smiled, nodded his head and went to lie down on the grass and promptly fell asleep.
A moment later a middle-aged woman came up to the small group of singers. "I am amazed at what just happened...I have been watching you and I have never seen anything like it before!" she marveled. Then she continued, "The young women drew back when that drunken man approached them and the elder stepped forward to bring peace... you were kind to him and he didn't bother you anymore." The brother was very thankful she had said something because it affirmed him as he had prayed to know how to properly handle the situation. Our new friend and her husband later came and danced with us. They were from far away and were only in Vancouver for one day. Someone remarked, "Isn't it something that we met....we (the caravan), and your family happened to be in Vancouver for only one day and would meet in this park."
As we have heard over and over at each stop, "How long will you be here?"...unfortunately we have to say, "Only today...we are leaving tonight." We do wish we could stay longer in each place....maybe next time we come we can stay longer.
It was a very exhausting day and we were thankful for our campsite at Bridal Falls near Hope, B.C. We all needed a hike up to the waterfall to breathe some fresh air and be refreshed by the mist of water cascading down the mountain.
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